62% of households experienced having no food amid the COVID-19 pandemic — survey

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 30) — A survey revealed that 62.1% of households experienced having no food on their tables amid the global health crisis when nutrition is key to fight the infection.

The Department of Science and Technology conducted the Rapid Nutrition Assessment Survey from Nov. 3 to Dec. 3 that “provided snapshots of the nutrition and food security situation of Filipinos during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Of the 5,717 households surveyed composed of 7,240 individuals, 62.1% or six out of 10 reported they experienced moderate to severe food insecurity, while food security is highest in households with children (7 out of 10), and those with pregnant family members (8 out of 10).

The Global Forum on Food Security of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization defines food insecurity as “the state in which people are at risk or actually suffering from inadequate consumption to meet nutritional requirements. Food insecurity is a result of the physical unavailability of food, people’s lack of social or economic access to adequate food, and/or inadequate food utilization.”

The survey also noted that food insecurity was highest between April and May 2020, or when the country was placed under enhanced community quarantine.

To avail of food, 71.7% of the households said they purchased food through credit, 66.2% said they borrowed from relatives and/or neighbors, and 30.2% through barter, while 21.1% of adults said they limited food intake in favor of children

Meanwhile, 22.1% said they experienced food insecurity because they had no money, 21.6% due to limited public transportation, 19.55% said because they lost their job, 10.8% said due to limited access to food stores, and 5.1% are the elderly who do not have other members of the family to buy food.

Due to the global health crisis, Filipinos were left with no choice but to stay home, with some losing their source of livelihood. To address this, the government has distributed assistance, in cash and in kind.

According to the survey, majority received food assistance from their local government or the private sector. They were given food packs usually containing rice and cereals, canned and other dry goods, instant coffee, and milk and other dairy products.

As an initiative, community pantries were also organized across the country to help those in need.